As seniors or their family members research various assisted living facilities, they will inevitably see statistics showing the average monthly cost of assisted living and other types of care.
These are great tools for getting a ballpark idea of assisted living expenses, but the cost can vary dramatically among different regions, facilities and even among different residents within a facility. Understanding why begins with understanding how pricing works.
Here is a breakdown of the types of fees you can expect:
Upfront fee (one time)
Most assisted living facilities will charge future residents a reservation deposit. Sometimes referred to as a “community fee,” this deposit may be a couple thousand dollars or so and reserves the accommodations of your choice for a certain period of time. Typically, this deposit is not applied to any other charges and is sometimes refundable only if the would-be resident is unable to move into the facility for health reasons.
Base fee (monthly)
In short, this is your monthly “rent” once you live in the assisted living facility. The cost varies depending upon the size of the residential unit and whether you live alone or have a companion. Most base fees are inclusive of most utilities, basic housekeeping, maintenance, and some meals. The base fee is also based on the type of services you need; i.e. independent living, assisted living, or memory care.
Care services fee (monthly)
This fee typically uses a tiered approach based upon the level of care you need (or want), and it gets added to the monthly base fee. The level of care is usually based on the number of ADLs (activities of daily living) for which a resident requires regular assistance. ADLs include activities such as bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, etc. For example, the monthly cost of care services may range from $150 or so for tier one and could go up to a few thousand dollars per month for tier five assisted living care. Accurately assessing the amount of care needed is one of the most important aspects of the decision process and also one of the more difficult to understand. The more thorough, clinical, and detailed the assessment, the better the plan of care and understanding of the cost.
Example: Suppose one assisted living community says the cost per month will be around $5,000 and another says it will be around $6,000. Also suppose you actually like the higher cost facility better but ultimately choose the lower cost facility because it will save $12,000 per year. However, after about a month of living in the community you get a call saying that more care is required than originally thought and it will bump you into the next tier. Now it will cost in excess of $6,000 per month, which is more than the other facility that you liked better to begin with.
Medication management & other ancillary services (monthly)
Many seniors need assistance remembering to take medicines at the right time and in the right
dosage, so most assisted living communities provide medication management services for an additional fee – usually a few hundred dollars per month, depending on the complexity of the medicine administration. If needed, additional ancillary services like physical or occupational
therapy would also be charged on a monthly basis, as well as non-care related services, possibly including parking, additional meals, and some activities.
All-inclusive assisted living pricing
An assisted living provider that operates under an all-inclusive pricing model spreads the total cost of services for the entire facility across all residents. In theory, some residents would pay more than they might pay in a la carte facility and others will pay less, depending on the amount of care they are receiving. The advantage, however, is that residents can more accurately plan for their monthly cost over the long term, regardless of the level of care received. Yet, some all-inclusive facilities may have a cap on the degree of services they can provide under the all-inclusive price. They may also charge for other ancillary expenses on occasion so be sure to inquire about all of the potential costs or limits.
Low income options
For seniors that qualify a government-supported assisted living facility will provide services at a lower overall monthly cost. You can contact the specific agency in your state to learn more about affordable senior living options in your state and qualification guidelines. Most of these facilities will also accept Medicaid.
Medicare will not help
As you can see, the monthly costs associated with assisted living vary widely and can really add up, so it is important to plan ahead for this potential expense. A major misconception among consumers is that Medicare will cover the cost of assisted living, but this is not the case if assisted living is the only type of care required. Medicare only covers skilled (medically necessary) care, and for a temporary period of time. Medicaid, on the other hand, may cover the cost of assisted living if your assets have virtually been exhausted.
The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.